The Kerala High Court has ordered a probe by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in a case against the former Senior Manager of Punjab National Bank (PNB) who has been accused of defrauding the said bank of more than Rs. 12.5 crores.

A Single Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas said, “Admittedly, investigation conducted so far by the local police has revealed that the accused had cheated the 1st petitioner of an amount of more than twelve and a half crores of rupees. In view of the above circumstances and the regulations mentioned earlier, it is evident that Crime No.780/2022 of Kozhikode Town Police Station is required to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.”

The Bench noted that if the amount of fraud or cheating involved is more than three crore rupees, the complaint has to be investigated by the CBI.

Advocate K.P. Sudheer appeared on behalf of the petitioner while Standing Counsel Sreelal N. Warrier and Senior Public Prosecutor K.A. Noushan appeared on behalf of the respondents.

The petitioner, i.e., PNB alleged offences punishable under Sections 409 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 against the accused who was the former Senior Manager of the bank. The accused was alleged to have cheated and defrauded PNB as well as the Kozhikode Corporation for an amount more than Rs. 98,00,000/-. Subsequently, during the course of investigation by the local police, it was realised that the amount involved had swelled up to more than twelve and a half crores of rupees.

Hence, the petitioner approached the High Court relying upon the Reserve Bank of India (Frauds Classification and Reporting by Commercial Banks and Select FIs) Directions, 2016 issued under Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. As per clause 6.1 of the said Regulation, financial frauds involving more than three crores rupees and above has to be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Branch of the CBI, if the involvement of the banking staff is evident and by the Economic Wing of the CBI if staff involvement is prima facie not evident.

The High Court in the above context of the case observed, “Admittedly the crime was registered against the former senior Manager of the 1st petitioner. The learned Government Pleader has submitted, pursuant to the instructions from the 5 th respondent that the amount involved in the offence alleged has swelled up to Rs.12,81,39,000/- ( Rupees twelve crores eighty one lakhs and thirty nine thousand only).”

The Court, therefore, while directing the CBI probe held that the Police Inspector is bound to inform the said crime to the PNB who shall thereafter, take over the investigation of the crime and complete the investigation as early as possible.

Accordingly, the High Court disposed of the writ petition.

Cause Title- Punjab National Bank & Anr. v. Central Bureau of Investigation & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023:KER:42845)

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